A Mountaineer Mixtape

Brionna Dallara, Associate A&C Editor

As App 2023 graduates prepare to walk the stage, let’s pause and take a detour down memory lane. Follow along to a mixtape compiled of songs tied to seniors’ favorite mountaineer moments.

 Before you plug in your headphones and get lost in the imagery of these stories, I want to provide a little history about the art of the mixtape. According to an article published on hiphopmakers, the original mixtape was a “compilation of songs from different genres and music artists recorded onto cassette tapes.” 

Although we are past the days of Walkmans on the waist, we can proceed with our own modern modes of mixes. Rolling Stones author Rob Sheffield wrote in his book “Love Is a Mix Tape” that mixtapes are “a fundamental human need to pass music around, and however the technology evolves, the music keeps moving.” 

Today’s technology lets us share music across various platforms through different streaming services, which is fortunate when crafting a mixtape dedicated to a whole university. Even though the technology changes, the spirit is the same, Sheffield said. 

Often when mixtapes are gifted to someone, they tend to tell a story or relay a message. Christine Chung said it best in her article “Whatever happened to giving people mixtapes?” that “when you give another person a mixtape, it is basically your own artistic audio letter.” Well App State, this is an audio letter from some of your graduating seniors, thanking you for the melodic memories these mountains have gifted to us in the past four years. 


A Whirlwind Romance in Blowing Rock


Sierra Eaton is a senior psychology major at App State who had her musical moment when driving down Blowing Rock Road for dessert after having her first date with her girlfriend at Makoto’s. As they drove down the road, hoping to make it to their destination for a sweet treat with enough time before closing, they were listening to “Night Shift” by Lucy Dacus. 

  Eaton said there’s a line in the song that goes, “You don’t deserve what you don’t respect / Don’t deserve what you say you love and then neglect.” She said she remembered that part specifically had made her girlfriend cry because she had never had someone treat her well in relationships. 

After that, they got out of the car and sat together on a bench in downtown Blowing Rock observing the vacant road lit up by the gleams of the street lamps and talked. Eaton said that night her girlfriend confessed how much she liked her. 

“And then it started,” Eaton said. “We started dating and that was about a year ago and four weeks.” 

The two ended up not making it in time to get ice cream, but despite the night shift closing down Kilwins, they had their own “night shift” that closed their first date on an even sweeter note. 


Melancholy Melodies in Brown Heights 


Phoebe Craft is a senior public health major and first came across the band Her’s in 2020, her sophomore year during COVID, while sitting with a couple of her close friends in their apartment. Soon after having discovered Her’s, they found out the musical duo they were listening to had tragically died in a car accident in 2019 and would no longer be releasing music. 

Craft said the first song she listened to of theirs was the song “Harvey” while gathered around on the floor at her friend’s apartment in Brown Heights, located off of the 105 extension. She said when she hears it now, she never skips it. 

“Everytime I hear it, I’m just in a trance,” Craft said. “I just close my eyes and listen to it, and it’s really nice.” 

She said each listen takes her back to her friend’s room in Brown Heights, back to the “itchy blue couches,” courtesy of the fully furnished units, back to the pink and purple LEDs that stayed on indefinitely, back to the white shag rug in the middle of the living room where they all first listened with melancholy ears to the band they had recently discovered.

“Every time I hear that song, I think of that,” Craft said. “It kind of puts me in that place and it’s really magical.” 


Reminiscent Rhythms on the Blue Ridge Parkway  

Sarah Reynolds is a senior apparel design and merchandising major. She found the song “Goodbye Carolina” by The Marcus King Band a couple weeks ago. Reynolds discovered the song per her roommate’s recommendation and decided to put it on while driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway with her boyfriend. The bluegrass ballad is about saying goodbye to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the bittersweet tune resonated with Reynolds as she reminisced on all her parkway moments during her time at App State. 

“It literally almost made me cry,” Reynolds said. “Because the whole thing is about saying goodbye to the Blue Ridge Mountains and like knowing that you had such a good life there, but you know it’s time to move on.” 

Reynolds said at the heart of it, the song is about a goodbye to a place you’ve fully gotten everything out of, and for her, the parkway encapsulates that. 

“I’ve just had so many, you know, deep conversations or just made friendships up there and just staring out at those mountains,” Reynolds said. “It’s just one of my favorite places to be.”


Gameday Gusto at Kidd Brewer Stadium 

Michael Salmi is a senior digital marketing major, and for him, the song that comes to mind when he looks back on his time at App State is none other than the game day anthem “Hard in Da Paint” by Waka Flocka Flame. 

“Everytime I hear that song, I just think it’s game day in Boone.” Salmi said. “I can hear that song on any given day now and I’m like, ‘Oh is it Saturday? Are we about to play?’” 

Salmi said he had heard the song before coming to App State, but ever since his first game day freshman year, he has formed a whole different connection to it. 

“I just heard it on the loud speaker and I was like shaking with the music,” Salmi said. “It was a surreal feeling, that first game day.” 


Summer Sensations and Good Vibrations at Guy Ford

Daniel Quaide is a senior exercise science major whose top playlist pick is “The Thrill” by Empire of the Sun and Wiz Khalifa, a song very suiting for his sophomore year summer. A time when he said the thrills of life and summer collided into a memorable montage of moments shared with friends post COVID-19. Quaide said that when he heard that song originally, it made him “reminisce on an experience he didn’t have” due to the pandemic halting any summer plans.  

“That sophomore summer, I started listening to that song and I was kind of down thinking that COVID is going to ruin everything,” Quaide said. “Like, my summer’s gone, I’m in college and I’m not not going to have the full college experience.” 

However, he said the season ended up lending itself to a time he can attribute to his closest friendships forming and flourishing. He said that summer was filled with river trips to Guy Ford, among other adventures.

“During that summer basically, I met like my closest friends, I got really close with my girlfriend right now, Grace,” Quaide said. “I got really close with everyone I’m close with today.”  


In Conclusion, Here’s a Compilation 

I owe my musical mementos to a band whose songs have been key components and a constant through the ups and downs of my college experience. I remember driving to college with “It’s Called: Freefall” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise blasting on the radio as I braced myself for the fall into a world of new experiences.

 I remember being in Dogwood Residence Hall that freshman year when everything from the state of the world to the state of my personal life had hit the ceiling. One of the only comforts was to hear the strum of the guitar and lead singers hums in “All’s Well That Ends.”

 I remember driving with my boyfriend as the sun set on the parkway sophomore year, basking in the light and uplifting bridge of “First Class.” 

Junior year came and went with “Polite Company” in both my headphones and my life. And here I sit typing this senior year listening to their new release “Drop Stop Roll,” reminding myself to stop, take a deep breath and roll with the remainder of the year, embracing every moment.

These songs aren’t direct translations of the memories I’ve had listening to them, but they are the threads in the quilt of my college experience, weaving moments together into a colorful construction of the most influential years of my life. 

It is always comforting to know that RKS formed their group in Boone. It was a serendipitous fact I didn’t know until living here; but their music perfectly captures the feeling of being here and thankfully through mixtapes such as this one, I can carry that feeling with me wherever life takes me next. 

After all, Sheffield said “there are all kinds of mixtapes. There is always a reason to make one,” and what better reason than graduation, the closing of one chapter and beginning of the next.